The Wet Tropics of North Queensland was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1988 in recognition of its outstanding natural values. It covers an area of approximately 8,940 km2 between Townsville and Cooktown on the north-east coast and features spectacular scenery, mountains, rivers, gorges, waterfalls and expansive areas of undisturbed rainforests.
From Port Douglas, one of the largest and most significant rainforest areas in Australia’s Wet Tropics is the Daintree Rainforest. The dual association of the Great Barrier Reef and rainforest coastline in this region is unique.
The Daintree Rainforest is one of the oldest continually surviving rainforests on earth! Some of the plants and animals found here have been around for more than a 100 million years. When the rest of the world experienced dramatic climate changes, these rainforests remained relatively stable and undisturbed. As a result, this living museum shelters plants found only as fossils elsewhere in the world.
Covering just 0.1% of Australia’s land surface, the Daintree Rainforest contains 30% of Australia’s marsupial species, 60% of bat species, 30 % of frogs, 23% of reptiles, 62% of butterflies and 18% of bird species. Amazing!
The Wet Tropics rainforests contain an almost complete record of the major stages in the evolution of plant life on earth. Many species within the World Heritage area originated when Australia was still part of Gondwana.
The Wet Tropics holds great significance for the local Aboriginal communities, who identify as ‘rainforest people’ with their occupation of the area probably dating back 50,000 years.